In recent days, news feeds were abuzz with farewell posts to one of fashion’s greatest, ALBER ELBAZ. His body of work, including a stint at Yves Saint Laurent, Lanvin and later, his own label, AZ Factory, is the perfect embodiment of classics made modern.
It was in 2001 when the Casablanca-born, Israel fashion designer took over as creative director of one of Paris’ oldest couture houses, LANVIN. His 14-year tenure saw the revival and revitalization of a maison at the brink of obscurity. While still respecting the codes and heritage of Lanvin, Elbaz redefined “classics with a twist.” The house of Lanvin during Elbez’s reign saw the return of the party dress—ribbons, puffed sleeves, satin and more. His was a body of work that made wearers and spectators alike smile.
Silk dresses and feminine frocks, respectful of the maison’s archives, were reimagined through vibrant color ways and unexpected handcrafted details. Bows were outsized to create a sense of whimsy and humor. There were delicate floral appliques, hand-embroidered onto collars and sleeves. It was his hallmark cheekiness drenched in French elegance, that made him the darling of every modern woman.
True to his vision of creating classics with a twist, Elbaz also pioneered the movement of luxury houses going into jewellery. His iconic collection of pearls, launched in 2013, was a tribute to the maison’s founder and namesake, Jeane Lanvin. A pioneer in French luxury and fashion, Lanvin was often spotted and photographed wearing her precious strings of pearls. The French Vogue reports that the string was “forged in her famous atelier, and combined three rows of fine pearls, alternated with diamonds.”
Elbaz’s take on pearls completely changed the ways these gems were perceived. He veered away from the polish and clinical perfection of most luxury brands by doing the unexpected.
Pearls were wrapped in lace, sheer and grosgrain. They were strung along with crystals and sometimes forged words like Love, Happy, or Cool. “I hate the word Cool,” said the beloved Alber Elbaz during an interview with The Independent. Ironically, that’s exactly what he had achieved and more. He birthed the phrase: “Not your mother’s pearls.”